Monday, August 18, 2008


Posted by Lisa Marnell

I'm happy today.

Late last night I finished a first draft of Frozen Rose, my YA novel. Hurrah! I woke feeling a sense of relief.

Over the past six months, I've changed the plot at least five times. I had figured out characters. I had established a setting that was magical to me. Though it should be hard to delve into mid-winter New Hampshire as I write mid-summer in sunny California, I managed. I'll admit to closing the blinds in my study and turning on the air conditioning a few hot afternoons. Being surrounded in my many photographs of New Hampshire mountains certainly helped as well. No, getting into my novel, wasn't ever a challenge, but knowing what my characters were going to do was hard for me.

Choices. Commitment.

Deciding that a character will follow one route and not another is something I haven't read much about in writing books on craft. But making choices about the direction for my novel has weighed me down for a long time now. I discovered something. It's easier to have a main character kind of lie, kind of cheat, kind of steal, than to decide on one course of action such as, My main character is a compulsive liar, or My protagonist, when challenged will cheat every time.

In Tethered, Amy's recently released novel - I'm still amazed and blown-away proud - she made choices. Some of them were difficult. But those choices were believable, realistic, and, from a writerly point of view, raised the stakes. Her choices made her novel the gripping and emotional story that it is.

In deciding which direction to take with my YA novel, there was one bit of advice, some wise words I copied and taped above my laptop. My mini-poster reads:

Fiction isn't written to make readers happy.

Its purpose is to jangle their nerves,

Make their hearts race,

Give them goosebumps,

and disturb their sleep.

Words to live by, writers!

Oh, I'm pleased.


Anonymous said...

What a great quote, Lisa. Thanks for sharing. And Congratulations!!!

Amy MacKinnon said...

This is so exciting. I can't wait to read it!!!

Therese said...

Way to go, Lisa!!!

Lisa Marnell said...

Kristen - It is a great quote, isn't it? The first line: "Fiction isn't written to make readers happy" really helps me as I am a little too nice to my characters.

Amy - How's mid-September for a read-through? I can't tell you how much I need feedback from you and Hannah and Lynne. What works? What doesn't? I have NO IDEA at this point.

I'm using Hallie Ephron's book, "Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel" to help me revise before you see it. That section in her book is awesome and gives me the guidance I need to know what the HE** I'm doing.

Therese - Thank you!

Larramie said...

Lisa, you did it and mid-way rather than at the end of August! Also, if you're happy and relieved, Rose must be thrilled to be out of limbo. ;)

mohanley5 said...

love the picture and the post, Lisa..good work!